"Big turnout" as Doncaster Wabtec rail workers continue strike action

Angry workers at Doncaster rail maintenance depot Wabtec are continuing to strike as a disupte with bosses rumbles on.

More than 200 Unite and RMT members at the premises in Hexthorpe walked out for a second time earlier this week in a ‘fire and rehire’ row at the former Plant works, responsible for the creation of the Mallard and Flying Scotsman.

There was a ‘big turnout’ outside the factory gates this morning as striking workers listened to speakers and held banners and flags aloft.

Workers first walked out on June 10, 11, 12 and 13 followed by a second round of strike action which began on Monday and is set to end on Sunday. Further strikes have been called.

Unite and RMT members at Wabtec are staging a series of strikes. (Photo: Alistair Tice).

The unions say that the US-owned firm is ‘bringing shame to Doncaster’, home of the Flying Scotsman, which was built on the site Wabtec operates from.

They say Wabtec is seeking to ‘fire and rehire’ the workers onto new contracts that will see ‘breaks cut and staff having to work extra hours, including at the end of their shift, for no extra pay’.

The company says talks to bring in flexible working have been going on for over a year and include a ‘substantial’ pay rise.

But unions say the firm is offering workers that sign the contracts a two-year below inflation pay rise. With inflation (RPI) running at 11.1 percent, they say this is a real term pay cut over two years.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Shame on Wabtec. This company is the latest in the line of bad bosses seeking to use the abhorrent practice of ‘fire and rehire’ to attack workers and cut pay.

“Wabtec is trying to bully staff to sign up for markedly inferior wages and conditions. There is no way Unite will ever agree to that.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch added: “Wabtec has behaved appallingly from start to finish and wants our members to pay for the company’s financial problems by firing staff and rehiring them on inferior wages and conditions.

“Wabtec bosses should be ashamed of tarnishing Doncaster’s proud history of manufacturing, with predecessors building the Flying Scotsman and Mallard locomotives.”